Interested in learning more on this topic?

Join us for a free session that will dive deeper in the WorkBoat Think Tank at the International WorkBoat Show!

Nov 30 - Dec 2, 2022 | New Orleans, LA


For several years, recruiting a younger maritime workforce has been a major talking point across the workboat industry. Many have stated that there is no bigger problem in the industry than the recruiting, training, and retention of new blood.

Those challenges existed in a pre-pandemic world. But how have remote and hybrid working environments further complicated the issue?

That topic is set to be explored in detail at 2022 International Workboat Show during the Workforce Development: Recruiting, Training & Retaining within the Maritime Industry session. While recruiting in this sector has always been difficult, added challenges from the pandemic have accentuated these struggles. But are these struggles with recruitment and retention specific to the maritime sector?

Rick Schwab from Delgado Community College doesn’t think so. As the senior director of Delgado's Maritime and Industrial Training Facility, he’s focused on helping graduates prepare to enter the workforce. In the course of doing so, he’s found that the struggles aren’t specific to any one industry or time period. In their search for talented, competent employees, organizations need to be able to cultivate a vision that allows individuals to see and define their career path.

“It takes all phases of a company to be involved in projecting that positive culture to obtain, retain or advance their workforce," he said. "But talented, qualified candidates are harder to find for numerous reasons. One, more job vacancies and fewer applicants. Recruitment has to be broader and go into markets to find people in all marketplaces.”

While the pandemic affected the maritime sector on every level, that didn’t stop many from beginning a maritime career during Covid-19. The maritime industry made some major shifts to fit new needs but some of those shifts have further evolved since health requirements related to distancing and gathering in large numbers have dissipated. Has the pandemic changed the way certain organizations attract talent?

“During the pandemic, all recruiting was done virtually at MMA,” said Maryanne Richards, director of career and professional services at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “Many employers were psyched to return to campus to recruit in 2021 but some (not too many) continued with virtual strategies. Many have combined in-person with virtual outreaches for a hybrid approach. We'll see how this works, but so far it seems like a sensible strategy.”

This type of strategy is just one of the talking points to be highlighted during the WorkBoat Show Think Tank session, with participants set to share insights related to the problems they face, how they approach specific solutions, what it means to send the right message to potential recruits, and much more.

What are some companies doing especially well in recruiting? What types of messages are candidates most taken with and what action items can attendees be focused on capturing?

“Companies are working hard to promote their openings as a career path with significant benefits,” Schwab said. “Promoting all other perks and what makes them the preferred employer also goes a long way. Giving bonuses and hiring incentives is important but it’s also essential to promote career paths with benefits to allow recruits to see how this livelihood is one that will allow them to support themselves and their family.”

Hear much more from Rick Schwab and Maryanne Richards during the Workforce Development: Recruiting, Training & Retaining within the Maritime Industry session. You can register now to attend the event.

Jeremiah Karpowicz is the Editorial Director for WorkBoat. He has created articles, videos, newsletters, ebooks and plenty more for various communities as a contributor and editor. You can get in touch with him on Twitter: @jeremiahkarp

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